Throughout the running of the current exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum people get to choose their favourite items from the Portsmouth City Collection that are on show in A Hard Choice (you can see and read our preview of the exhibition HERE). Every month different items chosen by many visitors are given rosettes showing the current favourites. Strong Island, working with the Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services (with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund), are asking lots of different people from around Portsmouth what their personal favourite items are in the exhibition and why.
Next up in this series of articles we met up with Matt Wingett, a local Author with an interest in design and culture, at Portsmouth City Museum. After Matt had a look around the exhibition, he let us know what were his own Best in Show.
Hello Matt, can you start by telling us what your first best in show object is and what you liked about it please?
Okay, it is called Teapot by Christopher Dresser. This teapot I absolutely adore because one of the things that I have thought about in best in show and one of the things that I do in museums generally is think, “Would I want that at home?” And that; I would love at home.
It’s delicate, and just look at the lines, it’s just absolutely gorgeous, with this beautiful squat curve that it’s got but this incredibly delicate spout and handle. The whole thing is just a really wonderful piece of aesthetic engineering, so I really enjoy it on that level. But it’s also got practicality, I love the fact that it’s something that will bring me comfort and that also is part of it’s appeal. It’s not only a visual thing but also it’s kinaesthetic. And also, pouring the water and hearing that, it is a complete sensual delight for me, especially with the bright chrome/silvered finish on it as well.
And could you tell us what the second exhibit you’ve chosen is and what you liked about this image?
It’s this wonderful turner’s chair from around 1640. I absolutely love this, because it’s not only a chair, but a demonstration piece which was showing how good this turner was at his job. So, what you’ve got built into the chair is, for example, the ends of banisters, or little figures along the tops of the horizontals. However, there’s something else about this design that I really like apart from all the turning which takes a degree of skill to make. This guy was a great turner. So in 1640, working on a lathe, with a foot pedal I would guess, and that it quite an extraordinary piece. But, the other thing I like about it on a modern level is it’s square-ness, because that reminds me of is a 1970’s robot. Now, that’s something that it gives me (and nobody else probably is going to get that) but I love it for that kind of kookiness. My goodness what a thing to talk about… and what a thing to have in your house and to show off to people.
And what is the third and final exhibit and why do you like it?
Okay so we have a portrait of Miss Grace Canon. As soon as I saw this picture I fell in love with it. She has got the most calm and composed face, one that thinks straight but has a degree of humour in it. She looks like some who is confident, clear about what she wants to do, and that was immediately what I got. I also thought she was very elegant. The notes say that she was an early pioneer of motorcar racing, which makes that steely look in her eye all the more pertinent because this was a woman who liked adventure. She also lived in Southsea, so she’s got that local connection which I love, and the other side to that is she is one of the donors to this very museum!
if you could think of something, of your own, that you could donate to the museum and the city collection, what would it be?
I think it would be Portsmouth City library, which actually already belongs to the council. That building is actually a great example of brutalist architecture. It’s an extraordinarily well-designed and detailed building. So overall, I think that it isn’t recognised as being the real top-notch architectural achievement it should be.
Don’t forget you can visit A Hard Choice exhibition and the rest of Portsmouth City Museum and other museums in the city for free the Easter and beyond. You can find out more about the museums and what activities are taking place at: